In a culture inundated with noise, news and non-stop negativity, Dr. Hal Brady’s brief words of encouragement transcend the clutter to bring help and hope to those who listen.
For nearly 37 years, Dr. Brady, senior pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus, has used various media outlets to “reach a skeptical public with a word of encouragement.”
First it was by writing a newspaper column, the “Pastor’s Pitch.” Next came his “On the Spot” radio segments. Then he began filming brief television spots. And now he’s using Facebook, Twitter and a recently released book, “On the Spot: Take Two,” to reach out and encourage.
“I think society needs encouraging,” Dr. Brady said. “That’s been behind the program all these years, to try to put something into the public arena where people can feel encouraged about their lives.”
An avid listener of Paul Harvey and Billy Graham, Dr. Brady began his radio ministry in the early 1970s while serving Clayton First United Methodist Church in North Georgia.
By combining their two voices – a religious message with one that was focused on current events and everyday life – Dr. Brady hoped to reach an audience that was hungry for a word of hope.
“My idea was to reach the public with religion through the side door; not to confront them head on, but to try to deal with things people were interested in naturally – baseball and the like – and try to bring in the faith through the side door.”
When he began his radio ministry in 1973, Dr. Brady convinced a Rabun County station manager to sponsor his first three programs at $3 each. After the first week, Dr. Brady was able to secure sponsorships for every segment for the six years that he served Clayton First UMC. Today, as part of their outreach ministry efforts, St. Luke United Methodist Church sponsors the radio and television spots.
With topics ranging from marriage and money to grief and grace, Dr. Brady says that his messages deal with the central issues of our time.
His daily radio spots air during the drive-time hours on five Columbus-area stations. His television segments air at 6:57 a.m., five days a week, on the Columbus ABC affiliate. St. Luke’s Sunday morning worship services are broadcast online and in Columbus, Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala.
While listeners might not know his face, his voice is instantly recognized by many.
While making a hospital visit, Dr. Brady was recognized by a young girl.
“As I was going in and they were going out, I heard her say to her father, ‘That’s Hal Brady, St. Luke United Methodist Church, Columbus, Georgia.’ She had picked up the byline; she had learned that. I’ve had people follow me off elevators and stop me in the halls and tell me that they know me, that they recognize my voice,” he said.
With the release of his fourth book, “On the Spot: Take Two,” Dr. Brady hopes to reach an even larger audience.
The 103 mini-messages in “On the Spot: Take Two” were largely written from Dr. Brady’s personal experiences during his past 20 years of ministry. An avid reader, he also gets ideas from world and current events.
While some have scripture references, many just contain Christian principles.
“We live in a skeptical society where many people are doubting whether religion has any value or not,” he said. “And some people are, quite frankly, already Christians, but it’s strengthening their faith. My goal is to encourage people.”
Another goal, he says, is to “go where the people are.”
And, increasingly, people are on Facebook and Twitter.
So that’s where Dr. Brady is, dispensing hope and encouragement 140 characters at a time.
“On the Spot: Take Two” is endorsed by South Georgia Bishop James R. King, Jr.; Bishop B. Michael Watson, North Georgia episcopal leader and former bishop of the South Georgia Conference; St. Luke UMC member Bill Turner, retired chairman and CEO of The W.C. Bradley Co.; Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington; and Kathelen Amos, president of the Aflac Foundation. The book is available for purchase at St. Luke UMC in Columbus, the Sanctuary bookstore in Columbus, and Cokesbury in Atlanta.
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor
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